No Magic Pill for the Cold or Flu


Thanks to the over $300 billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, it’s little wonder that many Americans think the cure to whatever ails them can be found in a magic pill.

Erectile disorder?  Try some Viagra or Cialis.  Depressed?  There’s Zoloft and Prozac.  Arthritis, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can all be alleviated thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.  And given that we are currently in the thick of cold and flu season, many folks believe the cure to their sneezing, sniffling and aches and pains is just a mere doctor’s prescription away.

But not so fast!  Not only will that antibiotic prescription take an unnecessary bite out of your bank account, but it has more dire ramifications. The Antibacterial Alternatives posted by our Green Guru, Rachel Sarnoff offered up some great ways to beat back nasty viruses without contributing to the superbug epidemic.  Today I want to educate you as to why treating your cold or flu with antibiotics is not only a waste of money, but has serious consequences for the health of the planet.

The issue of antibiotic abuse has gotten intermittent coverage, but there’s been very little done to stop the increase of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria caused by mis-prescribed pills and the presence of these once powerful life saving drugs in our food supply. 

Before you rush out to your physician for Amoxicillian or Zithromax, consider this:

  • Antibiotics are useful for treating BACTERIAL infections, not viral.  They cannot help with colds, flu, sore throats (except for Strep), coughs and even bronchitis. 
  • Never take antibiotics without a prescription.
  • Never use leftover antibiotics.  Leftover antibiotics may not be strong enough to kill off the bacteria–thus paving the way for it to become resistant to the antibiotic.  Throw out any unused antibiotics–don’t save them for a future illness.
  • Never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.  There are a number of antibiotics available to treat bacterial infections–but that doesn’t make them interchangeable.  Let you doctor prescribe the best antibiotic to treat YOUR bacterial infection.
  • If you are diagnosed with a bacterial infection, make sure you take the ENTIRE prescription.  Don’t stop just because you are feeling better or else you run the risk of having leftover bacteria in your system that mutates into becoming resistant to antibiotics.

To illuminate why antibiotics work on bacteria and not on viruses, offers this explanation:

“In very simple terms, bacteria can be described as single celled organisms. They have a cell wall and a plasma membrane, and they contain genetic material. Antibiotics can kill bacteria by damaging different parts of the bacterial cell (for example, penicillin damages the cell wall).Viruses are not living cells. They have no cell wall and no plasma membrane. They are not able to carry out chemical reactions; therefore, they cannot reproduce or multiply by themselves. As viruses do not contain structures that antibiotics can attack, these drugs are useless against viruses. Now you can understand why antibiotics are effective in the treatment of infections caused by bacteria, yet ineffective in the treatment of viral infections.

Now that you know the difference between a VIRUS and BACTERIA and when to use and not abuse antibiotics, save yourself some money on that doctor’s office and prescription co-pay.  Turns out that hot tea, a warm bowl of (free range) chicken soup and plenty of sleep are your best cures for the common cold or bout of the flu.

Got any surefire ways to feel better sooner with a viral infection?  Share your home remedies in the comments below!

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  1. leo.shumacher

    5 years ago

    Excellent post! This can’t be emphasized enough, Cold and Flu are viruses and antibiotics will do NOTHING against them.

    Hydration is very important when feeling sick. I like to drink hot tea with honey and lemon, it helps every time!

    Try adding garlic to your food, and take large doses of echinacea, which may reduce duration of a cold.

  2. coupiedoll

    5 years ago

    Hydration is absolutely the best. Whenever I am feeling the slightest bit sick I splurge on either a fresh squeezed orange juice or a Naked juice to help pump up my immune system. I also take some serious Vitamin C.

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